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Sexy Beast * Jonathan Glazer * 2000

Gal (Ray Winstone) is an ex criminal from the UK who lives out his retirement of his stolen fortune in Spain with his wife and a befriended couple. Then they get a phonecall from Don Logan (played by Ben Kingsley best known for playing Gandhi) about a cracking for which he wanted to ask Gal. The friends already know that the terrible Don is not going to take “no” for an answer and when Logan even comes over to ask Gal personally, stress and nervousnous get grip of the friends. When he arrived, Gal tries to tell Logan a couple of times that he isn’t interested, but indeed Logan doesn’t take “no” for an answer which results in some serious collisions. Eventually Gal does go to London, but since Logan is dead, he has another problem.

“Sexy Beast” is the first film of Jonathan Glazer and I read about it quite some time ago. The original plans were to release it only on video in Europe, but when the film was a big success in the States and European critics wrote ravingly about it, it was anounced for European cinemas. Eventually this turned out (for me) only 5 cinemas in the Netherlands (closest at 100 km) and one in Belgium (140 km). DAMN! Then (big surprise) there was one play in my hometown! Bad news, one time, saturdaynight 00:00 (12 am)…
But so I went. The film is often compared to “Snatch”, but I don’t entirely agree with that. Okay, both are crime-films, “Snatch” is more funny, but also “Sexy Beast” has some grim humour. A big difference lays in the essembly (?) of the films. “Snatch” is more like one film without much flash-backs, etc., “Sexy Beast” does have flash-backs, but more in a dark way, even reminding of David Lynch’s “Lost Highway” sometimes. Further: strange camery-positions, great special effects and wonderfull acting. Sometimes “Sexy Beast” is completely brilliant, but at other times not so. Overall I liked the film, but I don’t think it is as brilliant as some people say.

Resurrection * Russell Mulcahy * 1999

A friends project it seems. Christopher Lambert (Highlander, etc.) writes the story for a film and asks Mulcahy (Highlander, etc.) to direct it. “Ressurection” proves to be a “Se7en” copy.

Prudhomme (Lambert in the main part of his own film) is a police officer investigating a series of gruesome murders. During the investigation he is contacted by the killer and gets too deeply involved in the case of events. The killer proves to have an agenda based on his strict Christian faith. The film is pretty grim, the killings are shown very gruesome and Prudhomme brakes his mind over the symbolism of the killings. Nothing we haven’t seen before. Also “Resurrection” isn’t as cleverly written as “Se7en” (even though I had figured that one out before the end), so there are no real surprises. Overall an amusing film, but with a bit too high pretentions.

Nueve Reinas * Fabián Bielinsky * 2000

nine queens

“For people who like Memento and Amores Perros” the cover of my rental version said. Well, the story is much more like Christopher Nolans (of Memento) older film “Following”. Anyway, “Nine Queens” is about two small time crooks who accidentally run into eachother and decide to work together for one day. They filch some peoples money and then get a bigger job than they are used to: selling nine very expensive stamps. The whole film you are made to wonder who is fooling who, which is the whole idea of the film so I won’t say anything more. Nice film. <3>

The Negotiator – F. Gary Gray (1998)

I don’t watch popular Hollywood action films very often and after watching “The Negotiator” I remember why. The promising cast with Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, David Morse, J.T. Walsh, etc. was no guarantee for an enjoyable film. The story is standard: ‘negotiator’ Jackson is set up by his colleagues for missing money and the murder of his partner. Normally trying to talk hostage-takers out of their actions, Jackson takes people into hostage himself to prove his innocence. This does not go as planned, which is an opportunaty for some action-scenes. Spacey is called in to talk Jackson out of his actions, he develops a sympathy for Jackson’s situation and after an ‘surprising’ scene, all ends well. Not the most entertaining film. Not that the acting is bad, but the story and the way things are worked out are too 15-in-a-dozen.

Monroe: Class of ’76 * Ashley Pearce * 2005

This is a film in two parts, or otherwise, a miniseries with two one hour episodes. Robert Carlyle is Tom Monroe. When investigation the apparent suicide of a man, he runs into strange events that happened in the past in a small village. Those events have their results still. “Class of ’76” is a nice ‘supernatural thriller’. Fortunately not like “Millenium”, “Charmed” or “Medium”, but more with a suggestive extra layer, such as in some X-Files. The atmosphere goes from just a crime film to very dense and dark horrorish scenes. The story is not too hard to figure out, so I won’t say too much about it. The first 105 minutes are really well, the finale is rather poor unfortunately. These series are available on DVD, so no reason for not reviewing them (I saw them on the Belgian public television).

Mindhunters * Renny Harlin * 2004

At a ‘three DVDs for E 15,-‘ action I had to pick a third film from a variety of crap, ‘Intollerable Cruelty’ and this film which I didn’t know. I picked ‘Mindhunters’.
A group of FBI-profilers-trainees are dropped on an island for their final task. They have to solve a murder case, but instead get killed themselves one by one. ‘Mindhunters’ is supposed to be a grim, psychological thriller, a variation on the ‘find the serial killer’ theme. In a way it is, but the story isn’t too interesting, the film isn’t too special and the result is disappointing.

Memento * Christopher Nolan * 2000

A brilliant movie about a guy who has been in a terrible accident in which he lost both his short-term memory and his girlfriend. Because of the lack of his memory, he makes pictures of important things he encounters on the search for the murderers of his girlfriend. Clues are written on papers and important clues tattood on his body. “Memento” is magnificently told backwards, adding to the disability of the main character. You will see a scene and when it ends, you will get the scene of what happened before what you just saw. It sure takes the whole movie to figure it out and even afterwards you will have to discuss it with people to fully comprehend “Memento”. The great atmosphere, shooting in black and white, the disturbing images of Guy Pearce with his body full of texts and the idea that things are entirely different from what the main character things, make this movie one of the best that I saw in the last year.

Four Rooms * Allison Anders + Alexandre Rockwell + Robert Rodriguez + Quentin Tarantino * 1995

So why hadn’t I seen this film before? For years I have known that Quentin Tarantino was involved in this film, but I guess I never found it in a videoshop and it had to take until MTV broadcasted it before I finally saw it. A shame, because this wonderfull film is truely entertaining.

“Four Rooms” refers to four hotelrooms in which four different stories, written and directed by four different directors, take part. The film brings great grim comedy that we are nowadays familiar with, but in 1995 it may have been even more funny than nine years later. There is a bellhop (Tim Roth) who has to run an entire hotel alone on oldyears evening. In the first room a group of witches (including Madonna) stay, trying to turn their leader back from stone to a human being. Only… there is one “missing ingredient” for their soup.
Next Ted the Bellhop runs into the wrong room and gets involved in some SM kind of roleplay.
The third room is a great part in which Ted has to babysit the two children of a maffia-man. Of course things don’t entirely go the way he wants to.
The last part is written and directed by Tarantino and he also plays the main role. Tarantino really does his thing with totally useless dialogues, a strange kind of humour and of course violence.

Should you have missed this film until now too, do your best to see it afterall.

Ed Gein * Chuck Parello * 2000

“The true story of Ed Gein” as told in all it’s gruesome details resulting in a disturbing horror film. NOT!

This film is actually called “In The Light Of The Moon” and of course tells the story of one of the many American serial killers. Ed Gein (Steve Railsback) lived with his brother, mother and authoritive father on a farm somewhere in a small, remote village. Somewhere along the line the father died and Ed was happy about it. Shortly after that Ed accidentally kills his brother and makes it look like an accident, he was already quite aged by that time. Then for quite a while Ed lived alone with his extremely religious/Christian mother who gives him most of his ideas. When his mother dies and Ed lives totally alone on the big farm he is a bit of an outcast in the village where he lives. Not seeming too intelligent, Ed does read a lot about headhunters, grave robbers and similar subjects which in combination with his extremely ‘fundamentalistic’ Christianity results in a twisted logic. Obviously confusing fantasy and reality Ed starts to dig up corpses from the local graveyard and decorates his house with heads, faces, lamps made from spines, skulls and similar objects. After a while Ed starts to make corpses himself, again under influence of his mother who he has visions off. After killing two local women and feeding one to a befriended family, Gein is caught and taken to jail.

“Ed Gein” is nowhere more gruesome than any other film and only on a few places there is ‘something to be seen’. Neither is this a horror film (fortunately!) in my opinion, because it is not made to make you jump out of your chair with fright. Actually this is a drama also showing the human side of a serial killer, mostly just being a man having lost it. Also I find the film rather chastened, since only in one short scene you can see Gein dressed up as a woman in the skins of his victims. Gein was even more disturbed than this film dared to show!
A pretty boring movie.

Dahmer * David Jacobson * 2002

This film is said to be based on the true life of Jeffrey Dahmer and wants to give an insight into the person instead of just a film about his gruesome deeds. Well, the first thing is true in a way, the there is only a very small piece of Dahmer’s life to be seen. The film starts when Jeffrey already works in the chocolate factory and no longer lives with his grandmother and ends just before he is caught.

You can see how Jeffrey dealt with his father and grandmother and how friendly and honest he was with people he would or would not kill. Some flashbacks to difficult parts of his life, but all this doesn’t give you a very complete idea of his life. Of Dahmer’s 17 victims you get to see two and a few ‘possibles’.

The idea is nice, a psychological thriller about one of the best-known serial killers, but the result isn’t too fascinating. If you want a biography, you better buy the “Dahmer” cd of the American metalband Macabre!